Leaders in the field of human-animal interaction share expertise at hai2017.

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Barbara N. Abrams PhD, LPC As a professional counselor and therapeutic riding instructor, Barbara has included visual and performing arts, music, journaling, and equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) in the therapeutic process since 1996. Her masters’ thesis focused on the integration of the arts and animals with a concentration on equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). Her qualitative doctoral research explored the efficacy of including horses in psychotherapy with military personnel experiencing combat trauma. As a High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. staff member involved in the education and training of instructors, Barbara conducts lectures relating to psychosocial and behavioral issues and describes how such material relates to EAAT.

Barbara is certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl) as an advanced instructor and equine specialist in mental health and learning (ESMHL). She served on the board of directors of the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association (EFMHA) for six years, presented  nationally and regionally on both expressive arts therapies and EAAT, coauthored a contributing chapter on the role of the equine in animal-assisted interactions  in Fine’s Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: Foundations and guidelines for animal-assisted interventions (2015), contributed articles to both equine facilitated mental health literature (Moreau & McDaniel, 2000) and the EAAT trade , and evaluated animals for animal assisted interactions as a licensed Pet Partners Team Evaluator for Delta Society.

Barbara plans to continue making therapeutic connections between the expressive arts and animals over the next 20 years!

Sarah Bexell PhD has been engaged in wildlife conservation, conservation education and humane education for nearly 20 years. Currently, she is Director of Conservation Education at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, China and a Research Scholar with the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver, USA. She is also an instructor for the Humane Society University where she teaches Humane Education and Animal Protection and the Environment. Her work focuses on developing and evaluating education programs to facilitate the human-animal bond to promote animal welfare, healthy child development, and wildlife and nature preservation. She has worked in China for over a decade to build capacity of conservation education professionals working for zoological institutions and NGOs. She lives and works part of each year in Colorado, USA and in Sichuan Province, China.


Molly DePrekel Licensed psychologist Molly DePrekel utilizes the unique relationship people have with animals and nature to assist her in facilitating growth and transformation with individuals in their therapeutic work. Her areas of expertise comprise trauma informed therapy using EMDR and Sensory Motor Psychotherapy and training professionals to become proficient practitioners using animal assisted therapy. Molly combines the latest techniques in the neurobiology of trauma with animal assisted therapy in the treatment of trauma within educational settings and out-patient mental health programs to create unique holistic client treatment.

Molly is in private practice at the Midwest Center for Trauma and Emotional Healing and Hold Your Horses. She is an EPONA Qwest approved instructor, has served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota and is the co-chair of the Certification Board for Equine Interaction Professionals. http://cbeip.org Molly has taught and facilitated global workshops and trainings, among her favorites, working with tribal members on Williams Lake, Canada and the Rotta Love Rescue Organization. She is engaged in animal assisted therapy research, has published numerous articles, including two chapters, Equine-facilitated Psychotherapy for the Treatment of Trauma” and “Animal Assisted Group Interventions for the Treatment of Trauma” for the book Harnessing the Power of Equine Assisted Counseling Adding Animal Assisted Therapy to Your Practice. Molly has participated in the PROUTY STRETCH projects and currently seeks to publish her children’s book for at risk youth, incorporating animal assisted therapy.

You can often find Molly with her beloved therapy partners, Whisper, a Morgan horse and her canine apprentice, Willow, who is training to become a Pet Partner®.


Maureen Doherty is the farm program manager at Green Chimneys Farm & Wildlife Center where she is responsible for all of Green Chimneys’ animals and farm facilities. Previously, Maureen served as livestock manager at Green Chimneys and was responsible for the health, safety and welfare of all farm animals that take part in the animal-assisted education/therapy programs. Maureen is an experienced program facilitator specializing in pairing students with special needs with nature-based programs in a safe and therapeutic environment. She also coordinates Green Chimneys’ non-traditional 4-H program and has participated in many public farm programs, humane education conferences and major farm fundraising efforts. Most recently, Maureen established the Green Chimneys Dog Interaction Program which incorporates shelter dogs into every department on campus. Maureen is a member of the Putnam County Youth Advisory Board, a Putnam County Livestock chairperson and chairs several committees on campus. 


Nina Ekholm Fry, MSSc, CCTP, has specialized in equine-assisted therapy as a treatment strategy in psychotherapy and counseling for the past 10 years. She is the Director of Equine Programs at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection and Adjunct Professor at University of Denver where she leads the new Equine-Assisted Mental Health Practitioner Certificate program. Nina is the former Director of Equine-Assisted Mental Health at Prescott College and served as Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Counselor Education until 2014. She is an Executive Board member of the national Certification Board for Equine Interaction Professionals (CBEIP) and has trained in a number of equine-assisted approaches in North America and Europe. She is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and has worked with populations diagnosed with trauma/PTSD, ASD, ADHD, anxiety and addiction, as well as with youth-at-risk, cancer survivors, and military service members and veterans, and consults on psychotherapy services with horses for several providers nationally. In addition to client work and teaching, Nina conducts facilitation workshops and is the editor of the Scientific and Educational Journal of Therapeutic Riding, published by the International Federation of Horses in Education and Therapy (HETI).

Nina holds a certificate in equine management (Vocational College of Ostrobothnia) and is a certified Riding Instructor (CHA level 4/4). Nina is a certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor and a certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning through PATH International and serves on their Equine Welfare Committee. Nina is also an Equestrian Special Olympics coach (AZ) and teaches Equine Behavior and Psychology at Yavapai College. As a practitioner member of the International Society of Equitation Science (ISES), she is dedicated to ethical equitation, correct application of learning theory, and the understanding of equine cognition, behavior, and mental states as part of equine management, assessment, handling, and training.  Nina has a particular interest in equine welfare issues, both in EAAT services and in human-horse interactions in general. Nina is Program Director for the Equine Initiative at the Yavapai Humane Society in Arizona, where she is developing a new equine rescue, rehabilitation and adoption initiative.


Erica Elvove is the program coordinator of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection. Erica specialized in Animal-Assisted Social Work and Leadership for Community and Organizational Practice while earning her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work, where she is now an adjunct faculty member focusing on human-animal interactions and the promotion of social justice through a human-animal-environmental connection lens.

Erica has coordinated, developed and taught in the Animals and Human Health Certificate program since 2008, providing innovative educational opportunities in the human-animal interaction field for practitioners around the globe. She has also created animal-assisted educational programming for youth living in public housing, coordinated large-scale volunteer operations for a premier therapeutic riding center, developed and implemented a miniature horse visitation program and specializes in program development and event planning engaging streamlined administration and leadership development.


April Fiorenza is the farm science and nature teacher at Green Chimneys’ Clearpool Campus. By partnering with animals, April teaches hands-on lessons to enhance the school science curriculum. She has a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Connecticut College and a master’s degree in elementary education from Pace University.  She worked at The Nature of Things nature center in Westchester presenting educational programs for elementary and middle schools before joining Green Chimneys in May of 2012.


Michael Kaufmann is the Farm & Wildlife Director at Green Chimneys and the Director of The Sam and Myra Ross Institute at Green Chimneys, dedicated to research on the human connection to animals and the natural world. He served the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the American Humane Association (AHA) as a key program director in animal-assisted activities/therapy, humane education and animal welfare. He has contributed to defining publications in the field and has served on numerous national boards and committees. He has lectured internationally on humane education, animal-assisted activities as well as how the link between child abuse and animal cruelty offers opportunity for collaboration between various helping professions.


Miyako Kinoshita is a Farm Education Program Manager at Green Chimneys and a member of the Sam and Myra Ross Institute Steering Committee. She specializes in prevention, early detection, and intervention of emotional and behavioral crisis in AAA settings. She was a past committee member for the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association (EFMHA) and serves on the board of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH). Having lead Green Chimneys Equine programs for many years, she now focuses her work on integration of the farm programs at Green Chimneys, lectures internationally and supervises the international intern program.

Steve Klee, PhD joined Green Chimneys in September of 2004 and currently serves as the Associate Executive Director for Clinical & Medical Services. Prior to Green Chimneys, he was the Director of Psychology at Brookdale Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. Steve holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from The University of Louisville. Steve’s clinical and research interests include cognitive therapy, childhood depression, ADHD in children and adults and legal/ethical issues.


Patricia McConnell, PhD, CAAB is an Ethologist and Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist who has consulted with pet owners for over twenty years about serious behavioral problems, specializing in canine aggression. McConnell taught "The Biology and Philosophy of Human/Animal Relationships" in the Department of Zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for twenty five-years. Dr. McConnell is the author of eleven books on training and behavioral problems, as well as the critically acclaimed books The Other End of the Leash (translated into 14 languages), For the Love of a Dog about comparative emotions in people and dogs, and Tales of Two Species. Patricia lives with her working Border Collies Willie and Maggie, her King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Tootsie, who does AAI at the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, WI, and a very spoiled flock of sheep. For more information, go to www.patriciamcconnell.com or visit her blog, at www.theotherendoftheleash.com.


Sandra McCune, PhD, is Scientific Leader for Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition (part of Mars, Inc.) in the United Kingdom (U.K.). Her background is in veterinary nursing and ethology, and she has studied a range of topics in cat and dog behavior and welfare for many years, including aspects of temperament, social behavior, feeding behavior, cognition, and age-related changes in behavior. Her doctoral study focused on the assessment of individual variation in the temperament of cats and its impact on their welfare when confined. She has extensive experience studying HAI from both animal and human perspectives in collaborations with HAI researchers from the USA, U.K., Austria, Germany, Australia and Brazil. Dr. McCune was instrumental in the stablishment of the Mars – NICHD public-private partnership on child development and HAI, in planning the workshops sponsored by that partnership, and in editing three volumes on HAI under the partnership: How Animals Affect Us (McCardle, McCune, Griffin, & Maholmes, 2011; APA), Animals in Our Lives (McCardle, McCune, Griffin, Esposito, & Freund, 2011; Brookes Publishing) and The Social Neuroscience of Human-Animal Interaction (Freund, McCune, Esposito, Gee & McCardle 2016; APA). She continues to play a leadership role in the partnership. Sandra shares her home with her family including two cats. She currently has a vacancy for a dog…

Kevin Morris, PhD is an Associate Research Professor within the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver. He has an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Chicago. After 20 years of preclinical and clinical cancer research, Dr. Morris switched the focus of his studies to improving animal health and welfare and understanding the human-animal bond. He is applying clinical trial designs to quantitatively measure the impacts of animal-assisted interventions in a wide variety of environments and contexts. Other studies are aimed at documenting the recipricol impacts between companion animals and communities.


Jerry Newell
has been with Green Chimneys School for over 15 years, both as a teacher and an administrator for grades K-12, and has led numerous workshops for parents, educators and professionals on behavior management, communication, curriculum and technology. As an educator, Jerry has worked to stretch beyond the four classroom walls to include the outdoors, the community and experiential learning. He has been highly successful in engaging students’ minds through diverse activities such as reading to animals, pond studies, map skills, and vocational programming. As Director of Education at Green Chimneys’ Clearpool Campus, Jerry works closely with the outdoor education staff to incorporate nature and the outdoors into the Green Chimneys School curriculum, and support hands-on experiences to enhance student learning. Trained in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI), Jerry is knowledgeable in a variety of behavior management techniques to support children and teachers in behavioral issues for typical and special needs students. He is certified as an elementary school teacher, a K-12, and a school building leader special education teacher, and holds multiple degrees including a B.S. in Elementary Education from the State University of New York at Cortland; an M.S. in Special Education from Mercy College; and an endorsement prep program in Educational Leadership from Western Governors University.


Marguerite (Maggie) O’Haire, PhD is an assistant professor of Human-Animal Interaction in Center for the Human-Animal Bond within the Department of Comparative Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University. She is a board member for the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) and the Pet Partners Human-Animal Bond Advisory Board. She is a Fulbright Scholar who received funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to develop and evaluate a classroom-based, animal-assisted intervention program for children with autism spectrum disorder and their typically-developing peers. She is currently leading funded research to evaluate the effects of service dogs for veterans with PTSD. In addition to her peer-reviewed publications, her research has been highlighted in over 250 media stories around the globe, including in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, U.S. News and World Report, and NPR. More information on her research group and publications can be found at www.humananimalinteraction.org.


Samuel B. Ross Jr., PhD is the founder of Green Chimneys, a non-profit organization that restores possibilities and creates futures for children with emotional, behavioral, social and learning challenges. Under Dr. Ross’s leadership, Green Chimneys received international recognition and acclaim for the utilization of animal-assisted activities/assisted therapy, equestrian therapy and horticultural therapy in addition to many exciting and innovative programs for children and adults. He has served on the board of Paul Newman’s The Hole in the Wall Gang Fund, is an advisor to The Double H-Hole in the Woods Ranch in New York and helped start The Jordan River Village, a year-round camp in Israel.


Philip Tedeschi is the Clinical Professor & Executive Director at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection. Philip is also a faculty member of the Graduate School of Social Work at The University of Denver. He is recognized for expertise in the clinical methods for Animal Assisted Interventions and coordinates the school's Animal-Assisted Social Work Certificate program for Master of Social Work (MSW) students, as well as the Animals and Human Health professional development certificate program. He received his MSSW degree for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his specialization was the bio-affiliative connection between people and animals. He teaches MSW courses in forensic social work, animal assisted interventions, human-animal interaction and animal welfare, human ecology, environmental social work, wildlife conservation, animal welfare and international perspectives on one-health.

He is internationally recognized for research, scholarship, training and practice focused on human-animal interaction with focus on both the therapeutic potential of animal’s in human health, the ethics of human-animal interaction as well as public safety and public health risk factors associated with cruelty. He teaches practitioners best practice and evidence supported clinical methods for Animal Assisted Interventions. Professor Tedeschi is an experiential therapy specialist and co-founder of the Institute for Human–Animal Connection programs at the University of Denver.

Professor Tedeschi is a certified Master Therapeutic Riding Instructor, former Course Director and Instructor with Outward Bound, and a wilderness emergency medical technician. His clinical areas of inquiry and specialization have include non-traditional therapeutic approaches with children, adults and families  as well as program development and intervention in interpersonal violence. He has specialized in empathy development and attachment, trauma remediation, assessment and intervention with animal abusers and individuals who engage in interpersonal forms of human cruelty and violence. He has worked extensively in the treatment of victims of abuse, men who abuse and models of humane education.

Some of Philip Tedeschi’s best friends are animals. He has studied and teaches about the intricate relationship between people, domestic and wild animals and the natural world.


Zoe Weil is the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE), which offers online graduate degrees in comprehensive Humane Education linking human rights, environmental preservation and animal protection. IHE also offers solutionary-focused programs and workshops for teachers, students, parents, and change agents, as well as an award-winning free resource center. Zoe has given six TEDx talks including her acclaimed TEDx, “The World Becomes What You Teach.” She is the author of seven books including The World Becomes What We Teach: Educating a Generation of Solutionaries (2016); Nautilus silver medal winner Most Good, Least Harm (2009), Moonbeam gold medal winner Claude and Medea (2007), and Above All, Be Kind (2003). Zoe is the recipient of the Unity College Women in Environmental Leadership award and was a subject of the Americans Who Tell the Truth portrait series. She holds master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and the University of Pennsylvania and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Valparaiso University. Find her and IHE on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at ZoeWeil and HumaneEducation.

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